Two weeks ago, I wrote the first of this series which is about how to think about the future when we're facing potential long-term disruptions from many sources (hello Omicron!). If you missed that installment, read it here first. This week, we're going to dive into the foundation of growth: Finance, Production & Strategic Planning. Before we hear from our panel of experienced voices, let's first remember our goal is to strengthen our intuition: to learn to recognize familiar elements in a new situation and to act in a manner that is appropriate to it. 

A great way to recognize familiar elements is to actually broaden your consumption of points of view. Below you'll find curated voices who don't all think the same about the future. It's important to highlight that nobody paid to be featured in this newsletter. This is all curated so you can gather as many points of view as you plan for 2022 and beyond. It takes a village of support to build a healthy business.

Let's get started! 

Elli Papadopoulos of Skopos 

A BIT ABOUT ELLI: Elli Papadopoulos is the founder of SKOPOS, a financial advisory firm with a mission to engage more small business owners in the world of finance and accounting.  She spent 7 years as an SBA loan underwriter and grew tired of declining small business loan requests due to disorganized financials, lack of clear planning and limited cash flow. She started SKOPOS to help business owners understand their numbers, set strategic goals and prepare for the right kind of capital opportunities. 


ELLI'S ADVICE: Plan your inventory requirements early and ensure you are adequately capitalized.
Your goal is to keep six months’ worth of inventory on-hand, which is quite an investment!  First, you’ll need to calculate your sales projections for the year and determine if you can order enough inventory to sustain your sales over the next six months. Do you have enough cash in the bank to buy in bulk and cover your operating expenses for six months (monthly fixed overhead burn X 6)? Lastly, always be communicating (ABC) with your consumers if you’re experiencing delays— they’ll understand and feel better when they’re in the know. 


Matt Little of Little Business

A BIT ABOUT MATT: Matt is a consultant, business builder, and disco ball enthusiast based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Through his practice, Little Business, Matt partners with entrepreneurs and teams to create flexible business solutions that facilitate sustainable growth. From developing tactical plans for getting from A to B, to re-working processes to better serve the people behind them, Matt brings a human-focused approach to developing a structure for his clients to find clarity and pursue their goals with confidence. Interest piqued? Reach out today to schedule an introductory chat! 



  • On the whole, strategic planning is one of the least sexy but arguably most important parts of successfully operationalizing a concept or vision. Spending time upfront developing a thorough roadmap for getting to your goal provides a baseline to iterate upon when inevitable distributions occur. 
  • Which leads me to my second note - things will not go according to plan. Any entrepreneurial endeavor is as much about the journey as it is the destination (lol) and the more we can accept this inevitability and focus on metabolizing learnings along the way, the better we’ll be for it in the long term (and the more fun we’ll have along the way!). 
  • Finally, where we can, I try to think of project plans as malleable, living guides rather than rigid timelines. Building in intentional flexibility in how we set our plans ensures our timelines work for us and not the other way around. Understanding the why behind each deadline will help to provide clarity around how delivery dates are related and lay the foundation for assessing implications and re-forecasting as things develop in practice. 


Nick Libock of Libock & Associates

A BIT ABOUT NICK: I’m just a regular father of two kids who wants to feel good about helping others and showing my family the value of caring for others is the key to my success. I take the approach of listening to the client’s wants and needs and providing options, not telling the client what they need. We are a full service accounting firm with highly technical staff that can assist in all areas of business and personal accounting and financing and tax needs.

NICK'S ADVICE: One of the best exercises a business owner can perform when facing long-term disruption is to know your cash burn.  When you know what your business needs to operate financially, you can make the right decisions to navigate the difficult peaks and valleys of self-employment combined with an uncertain future. A second exercise to perform is to withhold your income taxes from each check received because the tax bill that has to be paid will accumulate quickly each quarter. Third, have a great working relationship with a business banker who can work with your accountant and get you access to capital in the form of a line of credit based on your revenue.  Finally, ask your professional if there are any grants you may qualify for or other tax-related credits you can take advantage of.


Steve Frank, Katia Protsenko, and Rob Spira of Launch Collective

A BIT ABOUT LC: We are a collective of industry experts dedicated to propelling emerging fashion and lifestyle brands via bespoke business solutions that set the wheels of success in motion. Steve Frank, Strategy / Finance - Steve draws upon his experience as a fashion startup CEO, as well as 20 years working with fashion's largest retailers and brands, to help creative entrepreneurs set their business on a course for success. Katia Protsenko, Operations - Katia’s financial acumen and understanding of the creative process provides clients with sustainable, scalable and efficient financial and operational structures. Rob Spira, Product - With a comprehensive background in merchandising, trend research, development and production, Rob specializes in all aspects relating to buying, planning and product. 


  • Strategy / Finance - I believe it is very important to create a financial model which is very conservative when trying to grow in an uncertain environment.  Finding yourself in an overbought situation with a ton of unsold inventory is incredibly dangerous to a small brand and can create financial and strategic strain on the business.  Being realistic about your revenue projections and understanding all of the expenses that go into building a fashion brand are the first steps towards ensuring your short term success.  Longer term, it’s important to have a clear vision for growth, whether that’s new products or sales channels, and understand the additional costs associated with layering those on to your business so that you have calculated your financial needs correctly and have enough funding to support your vision.   
  • Operations - First of all, remember that most operational disruptions are fixable. Take a moment; make sure you aren’t flustered, anxious, or angry. Review your timelines, margins, overall business goals, and bottom line. Communicate with any partners affected by the disruption. Be transparent and open about impacts on deadlines, product quality, costing, etc. Come to the table with possible solutions and compromises. 
  • Product - Always have multiple back-up options should there be disruptions with a factory.  COVID was an important test in that it showed us where there were breaks in the supply chain so we have spent much of the last year repairing those breaks to ensure nothing like that happens again.  Create realistic timelines, ensure your factory partners are on board with those dates, and have constant communication with your factories so that you can have a plan B or C if dates start to slide.  


Eric Trine of Amigo Modern 

A BIT ABOUT ERIC: Eric is the founder of Amigo Modern and a very active voice in American Manufacturing. You can follow his active, thought-provoking updates on the gram

ERIC'S ADVICE: As the world starts opening up, and design events are back in action, I've been able to (re)connect and hug my industry friends over the past recently. I got on a plane to New York, and walked 30 miles within 48 hours to see all the Design Week stuff. And this past weekend I was in San Francisco selling my wares to affluent millennials at West Coast Craft - arguably the best craft show in North America.

Through catching up and conversations with industry friends old and new, I was struck by how everyone feels this deep foreboding anxiety that big changes are about to occur. The picture in my mind is from the 1996 movie, Independence Day, where the alien spacecraft breaks through the atmosphere and just hover over the major cities of the earth - they're just there; hovering, ominous. You don't want to look away, because something might happen. The thinking goes, if I know what's going to happen, then I can plan accordingly - and if I can plan accordingly, then I'll be ok. I get it. Alien spacecraft, cryptocurrency, trade wars, "supply chain issues", anti-vaxxers, the Right, the Left, and any issue in between are all enough to get my brain to ignore my body. Because when I'm in my body, you know what I see? Other bodies. People. Actual human persons. And it's been a delight to see actual human persons over the past couple of weeks - fellow industry professionals, colleagues, associates - all names for loosely held relationships in a given field. I've come to realize that these relationships end up working like compound interest - you don't get a lot of time with these folks at once, but year over year, it starts to add up, and the relational wealth accumulates. At a certain point, it becomes hard to imagine what it was like before - and that's the magic compound interest. But it's not a quick process. We often want to bypass all the years in between and get to the end, because if we can be at the end now, we'll be okay. I haven't found many case studies, from the mattress in a box business models to orthodontics, that suggests that getting there faster is better - or that things will be better when we get there.

So is this a prediction? No. I don't know what the future holds - spoiler - nobody does! But I do know how we get from here to there, it's the same way we've always done it - together; we do it together. Remember, Jeff Goldblum, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Aliens, and the Fourth of July, seems like something you would grab out of a hat as an exercise in an improv comedy class - but looking back, I can't really imagine it another way. 

Double down on relationships. Know your cash burn. Do the unsexy work of strategic planning. Plan inventory in advance, but not too much! And have sourcing, production, and product options. The most adaptable businesses are those that do the most in-depth, long-term planning.  It might seem counterintuitive, but by committing our plans for the future to paper, we actually free ourselves to change as needed. We stay more grounded as we have thought through multiple scenarios and surrounded ourselves with resources to navigate any change that comes at us/   As we talked about in the first installment, what planning rituals will you now put in place to prepare yourself for steady growth in a possibly very chaotic future?  Practicing the rituals of planning will allow you to develop your own intuition about the economy and the world around you.  

Next week, in Part 3, we'll look at how to approach this from a Marketing & Communications perspective. Until then, good luck with your planning and stay healthy! 


REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN FOR THE 2022 BUSINESS GROWTH PROGRAM. Thank you to everyone who has helped spread the word, the program is now half-full. For more details about the course including a bit of history, the philosophy of the program, feedback on who should attend, Syllabus, Calendar, FAQs, and much more, check out the full Program Manual here. If you still have questions, don't hesitate to reach out!

When you're ready to register, email Holly ( by responding to this email. Please indicate:

  • Which cohort group you would like (Monday or Tuesday)
  • If you have additional team members that would like to attend
  • Payment option:  Full Fee OR Payment Plan

We'll save your spot and we look forward to working with you in 2022!


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